Monday, August 20, 2012

                Mom’s suitcase arrived late last night – so all is right with our trip now! J  We move hotels today, so it is really great that it arrived while we were still in the city.  Bonus! 

                After a nice breakfast we somehow got all organized into our respective busses (which was seriously much more complicated than it should have been!) and headed out of the city.  We seemed to leave Nairobi really quickly and almost immediately farm land took over.  In Kenya, the primary industry is agriculture, followed by tourism.  The road (so far) is pretty good, although the numerous speed bumps are driving dad a little nuts! J

                En route we got to stop and see a memorial for Lord Baden Powel!  It was kind of cool.  The area in which the memorial was located was named Nyeri, which was funny ‘cause that was my district in Calgary growing up!

                We are staying in The Arc.  It was previously owned by the Fairmont.  It is now owned by an Indian company.  It is a really cool hotel where the rooms are small and overlook the waterhole where there are lots of animas that come to drink.  I really hope that we’ll have the chance to see some animals here today!

                Aberdare National park is located at 7400 feet.  It is often rainy and cool because it is located at such a high altitude.  There are lots of elephants, cape buffalo, hyenas, and bores in this park.  The lions have been relocated because they were killing off the other animals in this park.  The park is surrounded by 400km of electric fence!  This separates the humans from the park and reduces the conflict between the two.  The highest waterfall in Kenya is Kalulu waterfall at 273m!  Unfortunately, we won’t have time to see it this time.  Around the park there are many of the 42 tribes that live in Kenya.  I think we’ll be able to see the Massa people during the trip.

                There are 44 different species of animals in the park.  The big five are the leopard, elephant, cape buffalo, lion, and rhino.  The giraffe and hippo are not part of this list because the big five started when there were many hunters that came in from Europe – they received a trophy for the big five animals!  In the park there are four of the five (because there are no lions in this park).

                On the way into the park this afternoon we saw a group of the cape buffalo!  We saw three big ones and one smaller baby.  They stopped right beside the road, so we had a great opportunity for pictures!  We also saw a lot of warthogs.  It keeps making me want to sing the Lion King!  Lol!  We also saw a lot of bunch of birds – that I am really bad at identifying.

                In the park there are approximately 40 black rhinos.  In Kenya there are 2 species of rhinos (black and white).  White rhinos are grazers.  They have a wide mouth for grazing.  Black rhinos eat trees and leaves.  White rhinos are bigger.  They have a bigger front horn.  Both species are endangered because of poaching – because of the horn.  Ironically, their horn is made of keratin – the same thing as our nails are made of.  Here, is one of the breeding regions for the rhinos! 

                There is a population of approximately 2000 elephants in the park.  Elephants are also endangered because of their tusks.  Last year, the Kenyan president went to several National parks to ban the consignment of ivory that was confiscated in order to promote elephants. 

                The buffalo lives in groups.  There are over 6000 in the park.  Their status is of the least concern in the park.  In this park, the spotted hyena is the main predator in the park, even  though in the savannah, they tend to be scavengers.  Here, they hunt in groups and are able to take up to 15kgs of food!

                The rarest seen is the leopard.  They are located in the park, even though they do not know the number that there are in the park.  They saw one last night!!  I don’t think we’ll see one tonight L.  There is a species of black leopards in the park.  It is a mutation of those from the typical leopards. 

                Queen Elizabeth was in this park in 1952!  Her father died while she was in the park, so she became Queen while she was here.  There is definitely a lot of history here!!

                It gets dark so early here…the lodge has lights, but it is harder to see the animals, for sure!  I really want to see some of the big five!  At least I am happy that we’ve had the chance to see the Cape Buffalo – even if it is of least concern on the endangered list!

                Cheui is the Swahili name for leopards.  Pumba means foolish, which is why they called the warthog Pumba in the warthog!  Go figure!

                We had a great happy hour in mom and dad’s room.  We played a couple of games and drank some wine – it was great!  Dinner is at 7:30 tonight and then some more time to look for animals! Yeah!

Later,

-Allison

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